Five Ways to Build Digital Trust
By Malia Jacobson
Combating online misinformation and building digital trust are increasingly important for organizations doing business online. Here are a few ways that our developers and content producers work together to improve access to reliable, trustworthy content for our clients.
The Internet is filled with impressive technology platforms that we use every day. But should we trust their content? For years, content platforms evolved to focus on the technology itself, not the content within. The result: Wary consumers who distrust much of what they read online. False online information costs the global economy $78 billion each year, and three-quarters of Americans believe online misinformation is a big problem. Let’s not forget the “infodemic” of public health misinformation that researchers believe contributed to the spread of COVID-19.
Per the International Data Corporation (IDC), false information destroys the trust that fuels our digital economy. Simply put, if website visitors don’t trust your organization’s digital content, they won’t stick around long enough to become a customer.
Organizations can win and keep users’ trust by creating trustworthy, reliable content. How? As developers and content producers, we help organizations improve content quality, clarity, and accuracy with these steps.
1. Include content producers and stakeholders in platform design.
At the beginning of a project, bring stakeholders, content producers, and developers together to identify the platform’s key audiences, desired user experience (UX), and the internal process through which content will be vetted, approved, moved through QA, and posted. Defining a process to validate and approve content prior to publication helps inform the development of the right back-end content management system. This ensures that the finished platform supports the publication of content that’s worthy of users’ time—and trust.
2. Help organizations use and optimize owned media channels.
An organization’s digital marketing efforts include paid, earned, shared, and owned media channels—the organization’s own website, blog, and other outlets within its control. While earned media (press mentions) and shared media (social shares) are exciting, many organizations learn the hard way that information published on external media platforms isn’t always accurate, and fighting misinformation is a draining, costly battle. Organizations with robust owned media channels can build and keep digital trust by carefully and consistently publishing reliable, accurate content on their own platforms to serve as a source of truth for users.
3. Address racial and gender bias in content platform design.
Poor platform design can invite discrimination and reduce the integrity of digital content. Take AirBnB’s efforts to create a more transparent platform by removing anonymity for both guests and hosts during the booking process. Researchers found that revealing a potential guest’s photo before a booking request was accepted allowed hosts to discriminate based on race. To create more equitable, trustworthy, transparent platforms, consider withholding sensitive information that could enable discrimination; build awareness of algorithmic bias; and measure the effectiveness of different platform design choices. (Find more information here: Harvard Business School: How Online Platforms Can Thwart Discrimination.)
4. Bridge language barriers.
Online misinformation disproportionately targets users with language and learning differences. Organizations can work to combat online misinformation by using plain language online and addressing language barriers by integrating language translation APIs like Google Translate, Microsoft Translator, and Smartling.
5. Make digital content user-friendly.
The most sophisticated platform will inhibit trust if users can’t follow along. We learned how this is especially critical for healthcare organizations, public agencies, and firms operating in the health and wellness industry during the COVID pandemic. Creating platforms that support user-friendly visual aids, symbols, and a clear pathway through complex topics helps users find and understand reliable, trustworthy information they need. (Find more information here: National Institutes of Health: Making Data Talk.)
Prioritizing content quality and accuracy may be new for organizations used to focusing on platform design. But when content producers and developers work together to publish trustworthy, reliable content, organizations and their audiences win.
- Designing for Good: User-Centered Design
- Designing for Good: Equitable Design
- Services: Connected Experiences
- Services: Digital Experience Design
- Services: Web & Mobile Applications